Rina Hernandez was grateful to October superstorm Sandy. Somewhat.
If not for the widespread destruction and chaos the hurricane brought on Staten Island, this nanny would not be able to plan her escape from her allegedly abusive Egyptian employers.
“Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako sa Sandy,” Rina, 52, told reporters at a press conference arranged by the Filipino American Legal and Education Defense Fund (Faldef).
Rina, a school teacher in Qatar for six years, found herself working as a nanny for the family of an Egyptian businessman in New York. “Sino po ba ayaw mag-trabaho sa New York,” she explained to The FilAm why she left a decent teaching job in the Middle East working with school children.
In Staten Island, where the family settled, she looked after six children and worked long hours with very little sleep and food. Her passport was held by the Egyptian housewife, and she and two other Filipino maids lived reportedly in deplorable conditions.
At the hotel where the family stayed at the height of the hurricane’s devastation, she and two other Filipino maids attempted to pilfer hotel towels, blankets and tubes of toothpaste to take home with them. It was not to happen because a combined team of Staten Island police, consular officials and lawyers from Faldef swooped down on the hotel where the family was staying to rescue Rina, as the Egyptian housewife grudgingly handed Rina’s passport to the authorities. The two other servants opted to stay behind.